The Klondike gold rush transformed Skagway from an isolated homestead to a rough-and-tumble stampeder pit stop full of saloons and crime that was home to a colorful con man known as Soapy Smith. Now it has transformed again into a top tourist destination. Much of the population only live there during the summer cruise season, when midweek days generally bring three or four ships into port, drowning the center with thousands of tourists. Cruise crowds are generally thinner on weekends and evenings. Your options for Skagway hostels are limited but you will be in a quiet neighborhood somewhat sheltered from the descending masses.
Skagway is popular for a reason -- fascinating gold rush history, well-restored frontier atmosphere, and stunning rugged surroundings great for outdoor activity. The Klondike Gold Rush National Park visitor center shows an excellent video about the rush and offers free walking tours to bring Skagway's history alive. You can also visit several other restored buildings in town, all for free, like the historic Mascot saloon or the original homesteader's house.
One of the biggest draws of town is the White Pass and Yukon Route railroad. The station feels like a step back in time, as do the old-fashioned train cars that rattle past. An actual trip on the railroad, however, is prohibitively expensive. If you just want to see the scenery of White Pass, you can take a much cheaper bus tour, and can try to bargain them down on slow days. If you need a taste of the actual railroad, consider doing a cheaper trip to the first flagstop, where you can then hike to Denver Glacier and catch the train back.
Hiking here is great. Take a picnic on the easy walk to Takutania Point or Smuggler's Cove, down on the pretty blue water. The hike to and around Lower Dewey Lake is steep at first, but beautiful. If you're into backpacking, you can try the Chilkoot Trail, one of the old Klondike gold rush routes.
Hi, I'm Melinda Brasher,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Skagway hostels. Welcome.